Dress codes: they're infamous throughout schools across the country. Some people praise them, and some people hate them. I want to share my thoughts on the matter. I'll begin by saying I attended a public school from kindergarten to twelfth grade. We were not required to wear school uniforms, but we definitely had a dress code that was enforced. There are always three main arguments about dress codes: they limit freedom of expression, are sexist, and they take away from getting a good education.
When students are forced to wear school uniforms, this is when you hear the most outcry about their individuality being crushed. Administrators can argue all day that school uniforms are wonderful for a variety of reasons, but in the end, uniforms further ingrain the idea into students' heads that they are just a part of a sea of people. They don't stand out. They're no more than a name on a roster sheet on the teacher's desk. This lack of individuality from a young age teaches students that all they're meant to do is "fit in."
Even when schools don't have uniforms, they often have dress codes that limit a student's individuality. Some schools won't let you dye your hair an "unnatural" color. Some schools won't let you wear ripped jeans or shirts with "questionable" sayings on them. All these rules, and more, are enforced under the pretense that the administration is preparing you to dress respectably in the real world.
There's no question about it; dress codes are sexist. The majority of the rules are directly for women. Skirts have to be a certain length, not showing too much of your shoulders, not showing your stomach, no cleavage, etc. The only rule that I ever saw be a problem for men is no cutoff shirts so that you can see the whole side of your body and no chains on your pants. It's ridiculous that women are told they have to cover up because it's "distracting" to others, namely the men in the school, whether it be their peers or teachers. There is no reason a girl shouldn't be allowed to wear a tank top when it is 90 degrees out!
Think about when you're out walking around town or the mall or even going grocery shopping. You see girls with short shorts and tank tops on. You see ripped jeans and cleavage. Does this distract you from functioning? If it does, you're the problem, not these women who are dressing how they want to and in what is comfortable for the weather.
The thing I think is the funniest is how in college, there's usually not a dress code. Any student can wear whatever he or she pleases, as long as it follows basic common sense, for example, guys can't come to class without a shirt on. As crazy as it seems, I don't think anyone feels uncomfortable with how their peers dress and it doesn't distract from the learning environment. We are free to be ourselves, and we are functional members of society, adults, your next leaders. We aren't trying to wear bikinis to class or anything ridiculous like that. When you take away the restrictions, students don't act out. We are forced to look in the mirror in the morning and decide for ourselves if the outfit we have on is acceptable.
Having a strict dress code doesn't help students learn better. If anything it makes students extremely self conscious and worried about if their outfit is "acceptable" in the eyes of the administration. When students are pulled out of class and forced to change or even go home for the rest of the day, that is doing to exact opposite. That is preventing them from learning. It is much more worthwhile to worry about the quality of the education students are receiving than to worry about if a girl's skirt is a centimeter too short.
Overall, I think K-12 schools should follow the lead of most of the colleges across the country and get rid of dress codes. There will still be parents there who will most likely buy their kid's clothes and regulate what they leave the house in. Colleges don't even have that, and there aren't many issues that ever arise about a student's choice of apparel. Start focusing on what is important: education.